Campus ID News
Card, mobile credential, payment and security
slider DawnThomas 1

A conversation with NACCU’s new Executive Director

Dawn Thomas takes the reigns and begins new era

Andrew Hudson   ||   Sep 28, 2016  ||   ,

July 1st marked the official changing of the guard for NACCU’s Executive Director position, with Lowell Adkins handing the reigns over to the newly appointed Dawn Thomas. But Thomas has already spent much of the summer hard at work on various NACCU activities and settling in to her new role.

With the changeover at hand, we at CR80News felt it was the perfect time to speak to Dawn about her experiences in higher education, her past association work and her thoughts on a future with NACCU. We caught up with Dawn just prior to her jetting off to the Canadian Campus Card Conference and in the midst of full transition.

The transition was facilitated by Adkins and provided a valuable primer. “I don’t know anybody that’s been lucky enough to be able transition the way I have,” says Thomas. “I feel fortunate that Lowell was willing and that I had the opportunity to learn through him.”

The move will mark the association’s first Executive Director change since 2004, but for Thomas it’s a role to which she brings established a body of work in higher education and association management. “The main goals for anybody on campus or within a higher education association – really the whole reason you’re there – is service to students and the campus,” she explains.

“This was the direction I was heading all along,” adds Thomas. “I feel very lucky because I understand the environment and the goals of a college campus having worked in that capacity, but I also understand the goals of a higher education association, so I saw the position as a good mesh of my skills.”

Experience is key

Thomas has been heavily involved in higher education throughout her career. For the past 17 years, she worked with the National Association for Campus Activities (NACA). Thomas made the move to NACA as director of education and research, after working in student affairs for 11 years.

Thomas’ role evolved over her time spent with NACA, enabling her to interact with virtually every facet of the association’s management structure. “My time at NACA was incredibly valuable to me as I really established a strong foundation and experience in association operations and management,” she says.

[pullquote]Something that I would like to see is for NACCU  to provide more expert information on emerging technology and assist that with connections and collaborations that we develop.[/pullquote]

Her time at NACA gave her perspective on the demands of the executive director position, as well as the value of having capable and driven colleagues to help shoulder the load. “I worked with closely one executive director at NACA for 16 years, and because of our longevity a strong trust was developed that enabled me the creative freedom, at times, to go out and solve problems,” says Thomas.

“Most people don’t stay in one association for as long as I did, but I think that the relationships that develop as a result of that longevity is part of what drives success,” she adds.

Piquing interests

As anyone joining the campus card industry for the first time can attest, there’s a learning curve. Thomas admits that things have been no different for her.

“There is a whole list of acronyms that I do not know yet,” Thomas says. (A note from this editor: she’s not the only one.) But she is diving headlong into as much industry information as possible, and posing questions to perhaps the best possible resource available, former Executive Director Lowell Adkins, NACCU members and its board. “I have a list of topics that I want to know more about, and have been pursuing them with extra fervor.”

What’s most interesting to Thomas, she says, is the rapid evolution of the card transaction system and the constant advancement of technology.

“When I started out in higher education, cards weren’t anything like they are today. They have evolved to full transaction management systems,” she says. “I think the evolution that’s happening on this front is intriguing. Technology has the ability to change and evolve so quickly in this space.”

|| TAGS:
Subscribe to our weekly newsletter


NACCU Annual Conference Call for Speakers
Dec 06, 23 /

Last chance for NACCU conference speaker proposals is Monday Dec. 11

In April the campus card, mobile credential, and transaction system world will converge on Covington, Kentucky for NACCU’s 2024 Annual Conference. Last year’s event included more than 550 attendees and this year that number is expected to grow. The highlight of the event is always the 70-plus outstanding educational sessions, and members are the key […]
CBORD HID video with Amy Surprenant
Dec 05, 23 / ,

CBORD and HID Global share combined approach to mobile ID

  Prior to her role with HID Global, Amy Surprenant helped lead two of the most innovative card programs in the country – the University of Vermont and Vanderbilt. At Vandy, she was instrumental in the launch of their mobile credential program. Now as HID’s End User Business Development Rep for Higher Ed, she is […]
Genetec stats
Dec 01, 23 /

Hybrid cloud, cyber fears, supply chain hangovers lead trends in physical security

In its annual “State of the Physical Security 2024” study, Genetec surveyed more than 5,500 end users and channel partners to get their perspectives on the market in 2023. Of the respondents, 32% were from North America and the remaining 68% were split between other regions across the globe. Key findings saw cloud-based access control […]
CIDN logo reversed
The only publication dedicated to the use of campus cards, mobile credentials, identity and security technology in the education market. CampusIDNews – formerly CR80News – has served more than 6,500 subscribers for more than two decades.

Join us, @NACCUorg, and @TouchNet to explore how campus card programs can successfully navigate the sales and procurement process. Join the webinar on June 6, 2 pm EDT.

Webinar: Learn how the University of Arizona uses campus cards, mobile ordering, kiosks, lockers, and robots to revolutionize campus dining. April 7, 2-2:30 EDT. Register Now at

Load More...
CampusIDNews is published by AVISIAN Publishing
315 E. Georgia St.
Tallahassee, FL 32301[email protected]
Use our contact form to submit tips, corrections, or questions to our team.
©2023 CampusIDNews. All rights reserved.